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REVIEW: The Priests (검은 사제들), an Exorcism with a Shot of Adrenaline

Hot off the heels of horror filled October, South Korea released a supernatural thriller by the name of The Priests (검은 사제들) on November 5th, 2015 and it’s killing it in the Korean box offices.

The Priests (검은 사제들) is Jang Jae Hyun‘s debut feature film in which he wrote and directed based off of his short film 12th Assistant Deacon (12번째 보조사제).

thepriests-01First things first, I LOVED this movie, however it’s gonna be a little hard reviewing it without drawing parallels to William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (which I reviewed for our MoreSpooker Horror Movie Challenge).
The overall story is that a young girl, Young Shin (Park So Dam), is left in a coma after a dramatic hit and run accident. Father Kim (Kim Yoon Suk) recruits Deacon Choi (Kang Dong Won) to assist him in saving this girl from what they suspect to be a demon possession. Sound familiar?

While I can definitely see the similarities between the two films but The Priests (검은 사제들) had a different atmosphere to it. It actually felt a little more fluid when it came to genres. When people think of The Exorcist, it’s classic horror with a sense of unease 80% of the time. With The Priests, I had a hard time figuring out whether to call it a straight up thriller as it did have some horror elements spread throughout. Even in the opening sequence it felt very thriller/action oriented then it slipped in to a comedy style editing when introducing Deacon Choi like “see how wacky the protagonist is compared to the stoic Father Kim?” As mentioned earlier, I’d categorize it as a supernatural thriller but warn non-horror fans they may be hiding their eyes towards the end.

Another main difference other than the time period and culture shift is that they focus much more on the Priests’ backstories and relationship to Young-shin vs her home and family life. This was beneficial to the story as it raised the stakes for the final exorcism sequence which got me surprisingly more emotionally invested than I’d thought be. I cried. Twice. The Exorcist cry count? Zero.

You’re not an assistant anymore. – Father Kim

Park So Dam as Young Shin hands down stole the show as her acting ranged from sweet and energetic high schooler to rage filled and absolutely terrifying demon vessel. While she’s been acting in movies for a couple years, So Dam is a rookie in the K-drama scene acting along side Choi Min Ho in Because It’s The First Time this year.

thepriests-02The movie was beautifully filmed and I loved seeing the aerial shots of the Myeongdong Cathedral. One of the most striking shots had to be of Deacon Choi singing with the burning myrrh during the climatic exorcism scene. I also appreciated the brief comedic moments such as the toothpaste under the nose bit just before all hell breaks lose… literally. No spoilers, but I forgot to breathe a couple times at the end there.

All in all I highly recommend checking out The Priests (검은 사제들) if you enjoyed The Exorcist or just like to cry out of fear and/or extreme feelings. Also there’s a piggy, how can you resist a lil piggy?

This film is just under 2 hours long and doesn’t have an MPAA rating. I’d probably throw a hard PG-13 on it for some pretty intense visuals and language.

The Priests (검은 사제들) premiered in the U.S in Los Angeles and Dallas Thanksgiving Day on November 26th, 2015. Wider release will be coming to San Francisco, New Jersey, Honolulu, Seattle, Vancouver, Toronto and more on December 4th, 2015.
To check and see if it’ll be in a theater near you, click HERE.

Check out CJ Entertainment online for the latest in Asian Films and more:
Official Site: http://www.cj-entertainment.com
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Do you plan on seeing The Priests? Comment below or tweet me @teriarchibbles!

OhKDRAMA is our new column exploring Korean dramas (and sometimes more in the dramaverse). Regular posts Tuesday and Friday.

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